Jon Tester vs. the Wall

This week, Montana senator Jon Tester wrote an op-ed for the Billings Gazette.  Tester has never agreed with Trump regarding the need for a wall on the border and he did not disappoint his like-minded followers this time either.

One of the things he stressed was his disapproval of Trump declaring a national emergency and “taking money from our military -- to spend billions on a border wall that Republicans and Democrats alike rejected.”

Twelve Republicans voted against Trump’s Emergency Declaration.  However, their vote against it was seemingly not for the same reasons Tester did. They feared Trump’s Emergency Declaration would be setting a precedent that could be used by future Presidents.

Several of the twelve even expressed their agreement with Trump on the need for a wall. Senator Mike Lee R-Utah said:

This [my vote] is not about the president. This is not about my disagreement with or disapproval of the president or his approach to border security or his approach to build a barrier along our southern border. I think all those things need to happen.

Republican Senator, Pat Toomey said “I support what the president is trying to do.” He just couldn’t support doing it with an Emergency Declaration. 

Tester serves on the committee that votes to fund the Department of Homeland Security.  He indicated he made the trip to McAllen, Texas to learn firsthand what tools were needed for CBP to do its job. “I asked the $25 billion question: should that solution be a wall from sea to shining sea?” The answer, he said, “was a resounding no.” Ask the right question and you get the answer you want.  It appears as though this was his goal.

The President did not declare that he needed to build a wall “from sea to shining sea.”  So, of course, the only way they could correctly answer him was to say, “no.”  On the other hand, there is a plethora of comments made by current and former CBP and ICE officials stating otherwise.  For example, former acting ICE director Thomas Homan said, “Migrant caravans will continue to make the perilous journey to the U.S. until the wall is built and loopholes in the laws are closed.” 

Tester said, “I visited the ports of entry -- where the vast majority of dangerous illegal drugs, like heroin, enter this country.  A wall would do nothing to stop this flow of narcotics at our legal crossings.”  Of course, it goes without saying that a wall would not stop the flow of narcotics at our legal crossings.  Nobody has said it would.

But a wall could go a long way toward plugging the holes in the sieve and funneling more drugs through our ports of entry, where they stand a better chance of being detected.  These illegal drugs are responsible for killing record numbers of people.  Are these lost lives worth the cost of building a wall?

Tester also said, “We need to re-examine our immigration laws.” Tester is among many senior members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, who are making similar comments.  Where have they been all these years?

Tester closes by stating:

Washington is full of folks pontificating about immigration policy. But it’s by talking to the folks who understand it best that we can do the hard job of better securing our borders in an effective, cost-efficient, and humane way.  

The key is be willing to ask the right questions and talk to the right people. For example, talk to members of the Texas Senate and Lieutenant Governor, Dan Patrick, to learn what Texans know and deal with every day. 

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick recognizes the seriousness of the problem and is trying to let politicians in Washington know so they can do something about it. Patrick said,

We adopted Senate Resolution 535 declaring the crisis situation on the Texas-Mexico border an emergency, to make it crystal clear to Congress that the crisis at the border is very real.

Just a few of the important points included in the long and detailed Texas Senate Resolution 535:

  • The U.S. Congress has the moral and constitutional responsibility to fully maintain the operational security of the Texas-Mexico International Border.
  • An unprotected border facilitates drug smuggling, human trafficking and facilitates spillover violence from criminal cartels and poses a grave threat to human security.
  • Due to the unprecedented influx of migrants overwhelming the capacity of CBP facilities and the ongoing crisis, U.S. border patrol agents at the Del Rio sector have begun releasing detainees into Texas. 
  • New reports that undocumented women have made their way into border towns after being beaten for disobeying smugglers, impregnated by strangers, coerced into prostitution, shackled to beds and trees, bound with duct tape, rope, and handcuffs.
  • 194,000 criminal aliens booked into Texas jails from 2011 to 2019 were charged with more than 299,000 criminal offenses. [Criminal offences exceeded the number of criminals, which implies there was a significant amount of recidivism.]
  • The Texas Senate supports the President in his efforts to move forward with emergency action.
  • The United States Congress consistently delays action causing Texas to [needlessly] expend significant resources.

One of the Texas Senate’s final actions was to instruct the Secretary of the Texas Senate to forward the Texas Resolution to President Trump along with the leaders of the U.S. House and Senate.  I hope Senator Tester makes an effort to read it.